Good Grief: Writing through the pain

I didn't want to write about this now. Not at a point when everything is in bloom. There is a sense of birth, of newness, of growth, as spring has finally arrived in the cold, wet northwest. Our Gravenstein apple tree has been woken up from a winter's rest. Yet there has also been a lot of death lately. Today's news of Osama bin Laden's death brought things to a head.

No, I'm not grieving over his death, nor am I celebrating it. I am a New Yorker by birth, born in Manhattan. I also went through personal hell because of him, and was put on the "no-fly list" for years because of my last name, which is Polish in origin. (It used to be Ladinski, but my great-grandfather, Louis changed it to Laden- pronounced "Lay-den," to be "more American.") I know my problems are infinitesimal compared to so many who have grieved for their family losses because of September 11th. Also those who grieve for family lost to the war that keeps going. Now the current news will make them feel that pain even more so.

Honestly, I am writing this for close friends who are grieving. My friends Shauna James Ahern and husband Danny Ahern, as well as friend, Tara, are grieving for the loss of Kim Ricketts this past week because of multiple myeloma. She was 53. My mom died of the same blood cancer just weeks after she turned 54. That was twenty-five years ago.

Of course it makes me think of my mom. The grieving never really stops. You just find ways to deal with it. 

My friend Bobbi lost her dad this past Wednesday. It was to be expected, he had been ill for some time, and he had a long and good life. Lou got to die at home with his wife, Dee holding his hand. But on May 22nd, it will be one year since Bobbi lost her beloved husband, Skip, who was my husband's best friend. Skip was only 56, and they didn't know he had a congenital heart defect. He died of a heart attack. Fortunately Bobbi was there. They were at Skip's favorite place: their cabin on a lake.

We all try to do our best. To offer condolences. To make meals. We bring flowers and hugs. It's an awkward thing to try to help those who grieve. Almost six years ago one of my neighbors lost her husband. He was only 36 and had two very young children. I just couldn't comprehend the tragedy. He was out jogging, in perfect health. The coroner ruled it "sudden death." So I did the only thing I knew I could do. I wrote Annie a poem.

I have given this poem to many, many friends since then. It has been read at memorials and provided comfort. I know "Poetry Month" is over, but I believe that poems are for any time. I'd like to share this with you, and I hope you will feel like sharing it with those you know who are grieving. Writing through the pain helps me. So does sharing.


When people die
It's good to cry.
Crying is watering your heart so love can bloom.
Crying is feeding your roots so you can grow strong and tall and give others shelter.
Crying is a magic healing emotion potion.

When people die
It's good to share.
Share your memories, thoughts and dreams in pictures, words, song and dance.
Share your time with friends who will hug you like a feather bed.
Share your pain so everyone can take a little piece and help make it better.

When people die
It's good to grieve.
Grieving takes you to places deep inside where you can touch your inner beauty.
Grieving lets you know that someone special gave you a gift, and though 
the person is gone, the gift won't go away.
Grieving is happiness disguised as a rainbow at night- you may not see it, but it is still there.

When people die
It's good to live.
Live richly because you carry that person with you like a vein of gold.
Live sweetly like a flower that gives its' nectar so others can live, too.
Live without fear because love will catch you if you fall.
©Nina Laden 6/05

I promise something more uplifting next post!
With Love,

1 comment:

  1. i'm with you in that I feel like the door has been open wide lately. lots of people dying all at once. maybe it is the season but like you I am enjoying the blooms and signs of new life even as the news comes in. thanks for sharing your post. xo


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